United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
CHARLES RONALD NORGLE Judge.
Daron Seymour-Reed ("Plaintiff) brings this lawsuit
against Defendant Forest Preserve District of DuPage County
("Defendant") seeking damages for his allegedly
racially motivated and illegal termination. Before the Court
is Defendant's motion for summary judgment brought
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the
following reasons, Defendant's motion is granted.
began working for Defendant in June, 2009 and later worked in
the Finance Department as a Senior Account Clerk. Plaintiffs
duties included '"Processing] invoices, contracts,
and requisitions for payment, ' 'Process[ing]...petty
cash requests for payment, ' and 'Performing] other
duties as assigned.'" Def.'s Local R. 56.1 Stmt,
of Undisputed Material Facts, ¶ 2 (quoting, Ex. 2, Job
Description) (hereinafter, "CM-ECF No.: 71-2"). His
position required interpersonal skills in order to deal
effectively with other employees. Moreover, Plaintiffs
conduct was governed by Defendant's Personnel Policy
Manuel, an Ethics Policy, and a Finance Department policy
addressing personal cell phone usage.
the years of his employment, Plaintiff made two complaints
about, what he perceived as, racially motivated statements by
his co-workers. On June 2, 2011, Plaintiff complained that a
co-worker used the term "whip" which drew parallels
in his mind to slavery and was therefore offensive, despite
not being directed at him. On March 1, 2013, Plaintiffs
coworker asked what kind of chicken he had for lunch;
Plaintiff believed that:
"You know, being black it's offensive to be thought
of as a person, you know, you only eat chicken, especially
during what I think people understand as a time when there
are some cultures, some religions, you know, during this time
specifically tomorrow - my wife is Catholic. She is not going
to have a meat dish tomorrow. So even though I'm not
Catholic myself, you know. I understand it's a religious
holiday. Immediately, it's offensive to me to hear that
especially in the setting of the time it took place."
CM-ECF No.: 71-2. ¶ 27 (quoting, Ex. 1, Reed Dep. at
67:12-22). Both complaints led to human resources
investigations, neither of which resulted in a finding of
racially motivated behavior. After each incident, Plaintiff
was informed that he should contact Human Resources in the
event that any other harassing, discriminatory, or
retaliatory conduct should occur. Plaintiff made no other
complaints to the Human Resources department after the March
1, 2013 incident.
June 5, 2013 through Plaintiffs termination he met with
supervisors and human resources officials for a number of
reasons. On August 8, 2014, Plaintiff was suspended for a
half-day due to his insubordinate behavior toward his
supervisor and inappropriate and excessive cellular phone
usage during mandatory training. On September 8, 2014,
Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (the "EEOC")
alleging race discrimination and retaliation by Defendant. On
September 15, 2014, the EEOC issued a Dismissal and Notice of
December 19, 2014, Plaintiff was again suspended, this time
as a result of raising his voice and behaving inappropriately
when talking with his supervisor about an accounting mistake
discovered on December 17, 2014. Following a Human Resources
investigation into the December 17, 2014 incident, Plaintiff
was terminated on January 5, 2015. Defendant informed
Plaintiff that he was being terminated because of performance
problems, unprofessional and insubordinate behavior, and
his termination, on January 26 2014, Plaintiff filed a second
claim of race discrimination and retaliation with the EEOC.
That same day, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination
with the Illinois Department of Human Rights
("IDHR") alleging race discrimination and
retaliation. On December 8, 2015, the IDHR issued a Notice of
Dismissal for Lack of Substantial Evidence. Plaintiff filed a
Charge of Discrimination, no.: 2015CF2187, with the IDHR on
February 8, 2015, and on October 29, 2015, the IDHR dismissed
the charge for lack of substantial evidence. Thereafter,
Plaintiff requested that the EEOC investigate Charge
2015CF2187, and on March 23, 2016, the EEOC adopted the
IDHR's findings and issued a Notice of Right to Sue.
April 4, 2016, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint
alleging: (I) Race Discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C.
§ 1981; (II) Discrimination in violation of the Illinois
Human Rights Act ("IHRA"); (III) Gender
Discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a);
and (IV) Retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981,
the Illinois Human Rights Act, and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2.
On July 19, 2016, the Court granted Defendant's motion to
dismiss Count I and Count IV(A). Now before the Court is
Defendant's motion for summary judgment, brought pursuant
to Rule 56, on Counts II, III, and IV(B) and (C).
judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law." Dunderdale v. United
Airlines, Inc., 807 F.3d 849, 853 (7th Cir. 2015)
(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)); see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). "A genuine issue
of material fact exists when the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party." Wells v. Coker, 707 F.3d 756, 760 (7th
Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
The Court views the evidence, and draws all reasonable
inferences, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Id. The Court does not "assess the
credibility of witnesses, choose ...